For those who thought Greenpeace International was done drawing attention to Shell Oil's return to Arctic Ocean drilling after nearly three decades, think again. Greenpeace is using the world's biggest stage -- the London Summer Olympics -- as setting to draw international attention to its Save the Arctic campaign, which has enrolled 370,000 supporters, the group claims.
On Tuesday, Greenpeace released a movie short video produced by Oscar winner Jude Law and Radiohead, one of the world's most popular bands, depicting a very lifelike and very homeless polar bear wandering London, "forced out of her Arctic habitat due to climate change," according to a press release announcing the film.
One of Radiohead's iconic songs, "Everything In Its Right Place," from the 2000 album Kid A, provides a soundtrack for the bear's "sad and lonely quest to find a home and food."
The polar bear meanders about London from trash heaps to busy avenues full of exhaust-spewing autos, from a Shell gasoline station to what appears to be an isolated "football" field, but that Greenpeace's press release identifies as an Olympics venue.
The London Summer Olympics opening ceremonies begin in a matter of weeks, on July 27. Too, Shell drillships are expected to arrive in Arctic Alaska waters in a matter of weeks. The Hague-based oil company is awaiting a few more permits from the feds; U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently said he was confident they would be forthcoming.
As Shell has prepared for its return to the Arctic, Greenpeace has done what it can to thwart, embarrass and otherwise draw attention north. Last year, the group deployed activists to a drill rig off the Arctic Greenland coast; activists occupied the Cairn Energy rig until Danish commandoes were dispatched to restore the peace. In February, "Xena: Warrior Princess" star Lucy Lawless illegally boarded an Arctic Alaska-bound Shell drillship, the Noble Discoverer, that was docked in New Zealand. Lawless was arrested for burglary after she scaled the ship; she and other Greenpeace activists involved recently pleaded guilty to trespassing.
Most recently, a hoax video produced by Greenpeace and the Yes Men went viral online. The video allegedly depicted a Shell Oil business meeting gone awry in Seattle.
The polar bear movie signals a turning point in Greenpeace's public relations campaign against Arctic development. While the group's other antics grabbed headlines and were joked about on Twitter, the campaign's message -- that Arctic development may further imperil stressed and endangered species -- never rose above the gimmicks.
Environmentalists fervently believe that exploring for oil in the Arctic exacerbates man-made climate change, which is detrimental to many of the ecosystems that sustain diversity of life on Earth.
Will Greenpeace's polar bear video, with help from alt-rock iconoclasts, finally create a global movement "to oppose oil drilling in the pristine Arctic region," as the group hopes? Bono certainly helped raise the profile for the Product Red campaign to fight AIDS in Africa.
The clock is ticking.